When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain Publisher: Ballantine Books | Penguin Random House Pub Date: 4/13/2021
Disclaimer: I received a free finished physical copy and audiobook copy of this book from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife comes a novel of intertwined destinies and heart-wrenching suspense: A detective hiding away from the world. A series of disappearances that reach into her past. Can solving them help her heal?
Anna Hart is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.
Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes, when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives–and our faith in one another.
Review: When the Stars Are Dark is the first book I’ve read from Paul McLain. This mystery novel takes place in Northern California and explores missing children cases, community, trauma, and courage. Overall, this was a really interesting read. This books is definitely a slow burn. The writing style kept my attention from the first page. I didn’t see some of the twists coming. However, I will note that there are some trigger warnings to watch out for since it is a heavy read: death of a child, drug use, and sexual assault. I’d recommend reading this one if you are interested in true crime and missing person cases.
The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Pub Date: 4/13/2021
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press and an advanced listening copy from LibroFM and Macmillan Audio in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: From the outside, everyone might think Fern and Rose are as close as twin sisters can be: Rose is the responsible one and Fern is the quirky one. But the sisters are devoted to one another and Rose has always been Fern’s protector from the time they were small.
Fern needed protecting because their mother was a true sociopath who hid her true nature from the world, and only Rose could see it. Fern always saw the good in everyone. Years ago, Fern did something very, very bad. And Rose has never told a soul. When Fern decides to help her sister achieve her heart’s desire of having a baby, Rose realizes with growing horror that Fern might make choices that can only have a terrible outcome. What Rose doesn’t realize is that Fern is growing more and more aware of the secrets Rose, herself, is keeping. And that their mother might have the last word after all.
Review:The Good Sister is the second book I’ve read from from Sally Hepworth. This book felt more like mystery than a thriller to me. The storyline is intriguing, more character driven and it’s a slow burn. Though I picked up on a couple of clues in the beginning, I found it to be an enjoyable read. All the characters were well thought out. I really enjoyed reading the perspectives of past vs. present perspectives from the twins, Rose and Fern. I kept switching from reading the physical book and the audiobook. I really liked the audiobook narrator as I felt like she made the story come alive. Highly recommend picking this up if you’re looking for a domestic slow burn mystery!
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner Publisher: Park Row Pub Date: 3/2/2021
GoodReads Synopsis: A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.
Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.
In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.
Review: The Lost Apothecary was my March BOTM pick. The storyline and mystery intrigued me. I really loved Nella and Eliza’s historical perspectives which really got me hooked. I could care less about Caroline’s present day perspective which didn’t add any insight to the story. Despite this having a gorgeous cover, this book ended up being a solid three stars for me. If it didn’t have Caroline’s perspective in here, I would have rated it higher.
The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell Publisher: Atria Books Pub Date: 1/26/2021
Disclaimer: I received an advanced digital copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: When she was nine years old, Melody Browne’s house burned down, taking every toy, every photograph, every item of clothing and old Christmas card with it. But not only did the fire destroy all her possessions, it took with it all her memories – Melody Browne can remember nothing before her ninth birthday. Now in her early thirties, Melody lives in a council flat in the middle of London with her seventeen-year-old son. She hasn’t seen her parents since she left home at fifteen, but Melody doesn’t mind, she’s better off on her own. She’s made a good life for herself and her son and she likes it that way. Until one night something extraordinary happens. Whilst attending a hypnotist show with her first date in years she faints – and when she comes round she starts to remember. At first her memories mean nothing to her but then slowly, day by day, she begins to piece together the real story of her childhood. Her journey takes her to the seaside town of Broadstairs, to oddly familiar houses in London backstreets and to meetings with strangers who love her like their own. But with every mystery she solves another one materialises, with every question she answers another appears. And Melody begins to wonder if she’ll ever know the truth about her past.
Review: I didn’t realize that The Truth About Melody Browne is actually one of Lisa Jewell’s earlier books and that this book is more contemporary than thriller. Overall, I enjoyed the storyline and loved the fast paced writing style. Switching from past to present really kept me on my toes as I didn’t have an idea on how the story would end. I also really liked the way we got introduced to so many different characters. The only part that didn’t work for me was the ending which seemed to wrap up in a bow. If you enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s other books, I’d recommend picking up The Truth About Melody Browne.
GoodReads Synopsis: Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.
They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
Winter Countsis a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling
Review: When I started reading Winter Counts, I quickly realized that this was more of crime mystery than a thriller. Though it was a slow burn, I found that the story kept my attention throughout. I liked that the author gave insight into Lakota culture and weaved in history and present day injustices found on reservations. In terms of the writing style in the book, I wasn’t really invested in the characters and felt that there needed to be more character development which somewhat put me off from enjoying the book wholeheartedly and I realized this book wasn’t a right fit for me. However with that said, I highly recommend checking out own voices reviews of Winter Counts to figure out if this book is you may be interested in reading.
A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight Publication: Harper Publication Date: 5/5/2020
Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from Harper in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Lizzie Kitsakis is working late when she gets the call. Grueling hours are standard at elite law firms like Young & Crane, but they’d be easier to swallow if Lizzie was there voluntarily. Until recently, she’d been a happily underpaid federal prosecutor. That job and her brilliant, devoted husband Sam—she had everything she’d ever wanted. And then, suddenly, it all fell apart.
No. That’s a lie. It wasn’t sudden, was it? Long ago the cracks in Lizzie’s marriage had started to show. She was just good at averting her eyes.
The last thing Lizzie needs right now is a call from an inmate at Rikers asking for help—even if Zach Grayson is an old friend. But Zach is desperate: his wife, Amanda, has been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in their Brooklyn brownstone. And Zach’s the primary suspect.
As Lizzie is drawn into the dark heart of idyllic Park Slope, she learns that Zach and Amanda weren’t what they seemed—and that their friends, a close-knit group of fellow parents at the exclusive Grace Hall private school, might be protecting troubling secrets of their own. In the end, she’s left wondering not only whether her own marriage can be saved, but what it means to have a good marriage in the first place.
Review: A Good Marriage is the first book I’ve read from Kimberly McCreight. I was initially hooked to the storyline for the first quarter of the book. Towards the middle, I felt that the book was dragging on and not much was happening. However, I did like the three different perspectives – Lizzie was my favorite. Without giving to much away, I felt that the side characters weren’t fully developed. Towards the last quarter of the book, that’s when the unexpected twists came into play. I definitely didn’t expect the ending which made the book worth reading. If you like legal thrillers and domestic suspense, then this may be up your alley.
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of this book from Atria Books in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: Be careful who you let in.
Soon after her twenty-fifth birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
In The Family Upstairs, the master of “bone-chilling suspense” (People) brings us the can’t-look-away story of three entangled families living in a house with the darkest of secrets.
Review: The Family Upstairs is Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller. Lisa Jewell has quickly become an auto-read author for me! I love the multiple POVs and the past vs. present narratives in this storyline. The book starts off a bit slow at the beginning, but quickly picks up towards the middle. I definitely didn’t see any of the twists coming which was quite refreshing. The characters are well-written and the writing style keeps you on your toes. If thrillers are your jam or if you’re craving an intriguing mystery, I highly recommend picking up The Family Upstairs!
Disclaimer: I received a free finished copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
GoodReads Synopsis: A twisty, compelling novel about one woman’s complicated relationship with her mother-in-law that ends in murder… From the moment Lucy met her husband’s mother, Diana, she was kept at arm’s length. Diana was exquisitely polite, and properly friendly, but Lucy knew that she was not what Diana envisioned. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice who helped female refugees assimilate to their new country. Diana was happily married to Tom, and lived in wedded bliss for decades. Lucy wanted so much to please her new mother-in-law. That was five years ago. Now, Diana has been found dead, a suicide note near her body. Diana claims that she no longer wanted to live because of a battle with cancer. But the autopsy finds no cancer. The autopsy does find traces of poison and suffocation. Who could possibly want Diana dead? Why was her will changed at the eleventh hour to disinherit both of her adult children and their spouses? With Lucy’s secrets getting deeper and her relationship with her mother-in-law growing more complex as the pages turn, this new novel from Sally Hepworth is sure to add to her growing legion of fans.
Review: The Mother-In-Law is the first book I read from Sally Hepworth. I was surprised to discover that this was more of a contemporary mystery than a thriller. The writing style reminded me of Liane Moriarty books filled with mystery and family drama. The story alternates between Lucy (daughter-in-law) and Diane (mother-in-law). Overall, it was a decent read. I really liked Diane’s character, however, I found that there wasn’t much about the male characters in this story. The storyline was intriguing, but I found the mystery to be lackluster. If you’re a fan of Liane Moriarty novels, then this may be right up your alley.
Disclaimer: I received a free advanced digital copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing in exchange for my honest opinion. This has no effect on my opinion, review, or rating.
NetGalley Synopsis: Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend.
We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us. Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.
At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.
Review: Imaginary Friend is Stephen Chbosky’s long awaited second novel. If his name sound familiar to you, it’s because he wrote The Perks of Being a Wallflower.Imaginary Friend was definitely a book that was out of my typical reading genre, but I’m glad that I gave it a chance. This horror book gave me Stranger Things vibes all the way and I loved how unique and intriguing the storyline was. I was immediately captured with the story and its characters from page 1. However, there were some instances in the story that lowered my overall rating of the book. First and foremost, the book felt like it was way too long (over 700 pages) and I thought it could have been culled down to under 500 or so. I wasn’t a big fan of religion talk or the descriptions of the dark fantasy in the book. There were also too many characters to keep track of and I lost interest in a few of the characters towards 60% of the book. Overall, if you like thriller or horror books, I would recommend picking this one up.
Review: Miracle Creek was my April BOTM pick. This legal thriller follows a Korean immigrant family and a single mother accused of murdering her autistic son. This book certainly lives up to the hype and deserves 5 stars! I really liked the premise and the complexity of the characters in this novel. The various perspectives also helped a lot while reading to give a more wholistic view of the controversial situation at hand. This is certainly a heavy read and I would recommend taking your time with this one. If you love mystery or courtroom / legal books with controversial topics, I highly recommend picking this one up!